What happens at a tribunal hearing?
The tribunal will explain the procedure at the start of the hearing. At the hearing, the Tribunal panel and your legal representative will have the opportunity to ask questions of your care team and will usually want to speak to you too. You do not have to speak to the Tribunal if you don’t want to. If you want to leave the hearing at any time, tell your legal representative or let the Tribunal panel know.
When the Tribunal members have finished asking questions, they will ask everybody to leave while they make their decision. Usually they will tell you their decision on the day. A copy of the written decision will be sent to you or your legal representative soon after the hearing.
Sometimes the Tribunal will be unable to reach a decision, for example because it does not have enough information. In this case, the hearing will be adjourned and new hearing date and time will be arranged. See guidance booklet MHRTW-07 for further information.
Where will the hearing be held?
The hearing is usually held at the hospital in which you are detained.
Who will be at the tribunal hearing?
There will be three people on the Tribunal panel, known as the Legal, Medical and Lay members. They are independent of your doctor, social worker or community psychiatric nurse (CPN), or the hospital if you are detained (“sectioned”) there, your legal representative, if you have one, your doctor (psychiatrist), your social worker and/or your CPN will also be at your hearing. If you are in hospital, a nurse will usually attend. If you have told us that they can be invited, your Nearest Relative may also be there.
The hearing is about me, can I bring someone with me to the hearing for support?
Yes. Unless the tribunal otherwise directs you can by accompanied by any other person you wish but you must let the tribunal know of anyone that will be attending to support you by completing form MHRTW-02. The tribunal will not pay their travel expenses and they cannot act as your representative.
What are observers?
Observers are usually mental health professionals such as doctors or social workers who are learning about Tribunals. You do not have to allow an observer at your hearing if you don’t want one; just tell your Legal Representative, your advocate (IMHA), or the Tribunal panel.
What is a postponement?
If a Tribunal hearing is postponed, it means that it will take place on a later date than the one originally planned.
What is an adjournment?
A hearing is adjourned if it has started, but stops before it is completed. A new date will be set to hold the rest of the hearing.
Will the tribunal complete a medical examination before the hearing? Who carries out the medical examination and what happens?
Yes, the Tribunal medical member will arrange to see you in private before the hearing. They will ask about your symptoms and how you are feeling and form a view about your current mental health and any other relevant matters which they will then disclose to the other Tribunal members before the hearing starts. They will also look at your hospital notes and may talk to members of the team looking after you.
You do not have to meet the medical member but it is helpful for the Tribunal to have this preliminary view before the actual hearing starts.
Can I stop the tribunal hearing from happening?
Yes. If you have made an application to the Tribunal, you can ask to withdraw your application. See guidance booklet MHRTW-06 for more information on withdrawing an application.
What happens if I am discharged before the hearing takes place?
The Tribunal can only consider the Section or Order you are currently subject to. If your Responsible Clinician discharges the Section or Order, the Tribunal hearing is cancelled.